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Yes, the 2016 Ford Focus RS Has a Drift Mode for All You Oversteer Junkies and Amateur Drifters

The Audi RS3 and the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG may be ahead of the 2016 Ford Focus RS when it comes to unadulterated grunt, but that’s not such a bad thing after all. In any case, the hot hatches from Germany don’t get a dedicated drift mode as the one Ford Performance developed for the Focus RS.
2016 Ford Focus RS 11 photos
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Only a month has passed since the Ford Focus RS debuted in Cologne, Germany. Naturally, the FoMoCo marketing department convinced Ken Block to make this puppy dance on the scene to show attendees that all-wheel drive and a 2015 Ford Mustang 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine make a great team.

Nevermind the go-faster bits and bobs adorning the exterior of this uber hot hatchback or the at least 320 PS” (315.6 HP) 350 PS (345 HP) and “at least 320 lb-ft” (446 Nm) of torque of the 2.3-liter turbo four-banger. What really matters is how that oomph is put down to the ground.

The culprit here is the Ford All-Wheel Drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring system, a tail-happy setup that promises a lot. In the carmaker’s own words, we can look forward to “lateral acceleration exceeding 1 G” and, get this, “the ability to achieve controlled oversteer drifts at the track.”

So what’s the deal with that controlled oversteer drifts shenanigan? Happily, Ford Performance’s Dave Pericak cleared that up for us at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show and confirmed that the all-new Ford Focus RS has a dedicated drift mode.

So here’s the deal - the 2016 Ford Focus RS has four different drive modes: Normal, Sport, Track and the one that matters most - the Drift Mode. The driver can choose between those driving modes via a switch alongside the gear lever, with specific settings for the all-wheel-drive system, damper controls, Electronic Stability Control, steering, engine response and exhaust sound.

The industry-first drift mode basically calibrates the performance-oriented AWD system to get torque distribution just right to help you kick the tail out “under circuit conditions.” Unlike cheap Haldex-equipped all-wheel drive systems, the GKN-developed AWD system of the 2016 Focus RS boasts with twin electronically controlled clutch packs on each side of the rear-drive unit.70 percent of the engine’s torque can be sent to the rear axle and 100 percent of that torque can be shuffled between the rear wheels
Through torque vectoring, the electronic brain of the Focus RS’ powertrain can deliver oversteer by working in conjunction with the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system. Simply put, computers and sensors analyze how the Focus RS is yawing in a given situation and how much the driver works the steering wheel in order to catch it. If you are one step ahead of the car, Drift Mode will let you hoon to your heart’s desire. However, Drift Mode is also there to save butterfingered drivers from crashing or to enhance their lack of talent.

If the driver doesn’t work the wheel accordingly or he overcooks the corner, Drift Mode is able to get things sorted out for you. Automatically applying the Brembo performance brakes, shuffling torque, playing with the electric steering system’s ratio, it can do it all in order to help the driver complete a drifting maneuver or get him out of harm’s way.

Another cool thing you need to know about the 2016 Ford Focus RS is that you can also turn off the ESC completely. But do you really want to do that? Keep in mind that modern performance cars are developed around the electronic driving aids, so why unsettle the driving dynamics by believing you’re better at doing smoky drifts at incredible degrees, better than super calibrated computers?

Let’s be real here. Only Ken Block and other big time drift stars need wipers for the driver’s side window while doing the sideways-y stuff. It may sound disappointing for the purists, but us mortals driving road-going machines don’t need that kind of thing and shouldn’t take chances with the Grim Reaper by turning the driving aids completely off.

After the Mustang's line lock feature and the 2016 Ford Focus RS’ Drift Mode, who knows what else FoMoCo will surprise us with when the Shelby GT350 Mustang and 2017 Ford GT come into the limelight?


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